Georgia Tech student leaders: We don’t want guns on our campus

Georgia Tech is one of the colleges willing to accept qualified high school students through the Move On When Ready program.

Georgia Tech is one of the colleges willing to accept qualified high school students through the Move On When Ready program.

The campus carry bill advancing through the Georgia Legislature has the backing of the gun lobby, the governor, the House and likely the Senate.

Does it have the support of Georgia students?

In this essay, student leaders at Georgia Tech say “no.”

The authors are Jen Abrams, Student Government Association, Undergraduate President, and Marc Canellas, Student Government Association, Graduate President.

To update where House bill 859 — campus carry —  now stands: The state Senate is expected to vote on the bill soon. The Senate Judiciary Committee, after holding a three-hour hearing last week, took no public testimony Monday before a party-line 5-3 vote.

By Jen Abrams and Marc Canellas

As the two student body presidents of the 25,034 undergraduate and graduate students at Georgia Tech, there is one question we constantly get asked: Why is the Legislature trying to pass HB 859? Here is a letter we have drafted for our students that we want to share with you:

Dear Georgia Tech Student:

Thank you for your question about House Bill 859, the “campus carry” provision to allow licensed individuals to carry concealed firearms on our campus.

The first thing we can tell you is that the bill was not created at our request. From students to the administration, we collectively oppose the bill.

You and your fellow students strongly oppose the bill: 70 percent oppose the measure in a survey of 5,738 Georgia Tech students (23 percent of students).

The two people most responsible for our safety and well-being on campus favor the current law: President Bud Peterson and Georgia Tech Police Chief Rob Connolly.

The presidents of all 28 other institutions in the University System of Georgia (USG), their police chiefs, and Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby oppose the bill.

In response to this opposition, some state leaders have argued that as long as there aren’t mass shootings, the educational environment is unaffected by guns.

Many have written at-length about the other fundamental issues beyond mass shootings that underlie this proposed law. Such as, easier access to guns will exacerbate run-of-the-mill disagreements into something far more dangerous. Or that in such a stressful environment, having access to a gun drastically increases the risk of suicide. Beyond immediate safety concerns, this law could weaken the academic prowess of Georgia Tech by encouraging top minds to seek employment elsewhere and effectively censoring discussion of sensitive topics.

But this letter isn’t about mass shootings or the abundance of other concerns. This letter is about the impact on the day-to-day life of Georgia Tech students. This is about the small, implicit assumption on our campus that will be permanently changed: that the police are the only ones with firearms.

With this law, we must now assume that our friends, classmates, faculty, and staff have firearms at all times. Contrary to the perspective of some state leaders, this assumption does not inspire confidence and security. It instills fear.

It instills fear in the 24-year-old graduate teaching assistant who has to give back a difficult midterm exam in which some of the class earned a failing grade. He doesn’t know if someone will come to his office with a gun, so he cancels office hours for the next few weeks.

It instills fear in the 20-year-old female student who realized that “study date” didn’t mean the same thing to her classmate only after she was alone in the closed study room with him. Before campus carry, this was just an awkward situation, but after campus carry, she knows that with the wrong guy, the situation could evolve into something much worse.

Maybe these little changes don’t show up in crime statistics to be quoted by legislators or by the media, but we know they matter to you. These daily interactions that require trust and safety are the foundation for everything we do at Georgia Tech. We know that our school is supposed to be a place where students are safe to learn, safe to challenge each other on ideas, safe to grow and mature. House Bill 859 will challenge and undermine that safety.

Ultimately, some state leaders have argued that we should be focused on making sure that students are taught and educated, and that the law will take care of the rest. We trust our state leaders to take care of us. We have to trust them. They are our elected representatives, our advocates.

We hope they will be able to weigh the real day-to-day fear of our students against the generalities of Second Amendment rights advocated by others. We hope they will speak up for us.

 

Reader Comments 0

68 comments
Chloecake
Chloecake

The model legislation was written by ALEC for the NRA. The NRA is nothing more then a lobbying group for gun manufacturers. The Georgia Legislature is dependent on ALEC for a lot of what it passes. The NRA hopes this bill will force the majority, those who feel anxiety in the presence of those carrying, to also arm themselves. This legislation is a downward descent away from a learning environment into a fantasy scenario that somehow carrying a deadly weapon protects us or makes the majority feel safe.  


First hand accounts by those well trained in gun use, say the confusion in an active shooter situation often masks how to respond, who to take aim at. Think about the shooting of Gabby Giffords and 18 others in broad daylight. Giffords was on Sarah Palin's targeted list. The Pima Cty. Sheriff, initially expressed concern that overheated political rhetoric and violence may be related. "When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths ...the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting outrageous." That was 2011. 


We are faced with an even greater challenge today when a presidential candidate encourages violence at rallies. The political climate today is worse. We sure don't need more guns in a state that doesn't have universal background checks or that doesn't keep records on those with a history of mental illness.

PatriotNc
PatriotNc

@Bradybuzz who will protect the students if a nut case comes to shoot the school up?

GB101
GB101

This is about the small, implicit assumption on our campus that will be permanently changed: that the police are the only ones with firearms.


Are they blind?  Why on earth would anyone assume that police are the only ones with guns on campus?  A law saying that no guns are allowed doesn't keep guns off campus.  Nor does a sign.  Nor does a statement in a policy manual sitting on the dean's bookshelf.  Unless there are metal detectors and armed guards at every entrance guns are now allowed on campus.  

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

Another AJC anti-gun hack piece.  I'm shocked, SHOCKED I tell you.


redweather
redweather

@Lee_CPA2 No, another piece questioning the "idea" that deadly weaponry must go everywhere. 

Connor Jordan
Connor Jordan

Then they don't need to carry. Our system of government is designed to protect the rights of the minority against majority rule. G Tech is a human game preserve.

#LawDawg2014
#LawDawg2014

The majority of people commenting in support of this law could not even get into Georgia Tech. To discredit "actual students" concerns of not wanting guns on "their" campus is foolish. If we are going to allow guns on the campuses of State schools then why not allow guns on every property owned by the State of Georgia? Surely the concerns of excluding guns on certain State properties can equally be made for excluding guns on campuses. 

DonT3655
DonT3655

@LawDawg2014 I concur. We should get rid of all gun free zones. I am perfectly fine with lawful carry in the Capitol. Let's get that done.

redweather
redweather

@DonT3655 @LawDawg2014 The question is, how is the legislature's decision to deny guns in places like the state capital anything but cowardly hypocrisy?

Chloecake
Chloecake

@LawDawg2014 Why are guns banned in the legislature itself if the "law makers" think its such a good idea?

stevenmia
stevenmia


Sixty seven year old here. Taught community college in my early  years.    Have traveled to over 60 countries all of which have fewer guns per capita than the US and less crime as has been stated.

I am sickened that violence has become so prevalent in the US and that it gets exported in the form of entertainment and munitions.    It is by design, not by accident.      We are in the middle of one huge experiment brought on by industries in the name of unfettered freedom.   I am afraid were are making no progress toward any good outcome.    Democracy is failing in many places because it can not catch hold where there is lack of education.   Oldsters are hard to change.  

I do know young people are eager to study the facts and as a whole are not yet deadened by decades of violence.     If this freedom to carry a gun experiment is to have any proper analysis we must have gun free zones  as  "control" groups in order to draw any proper conclusions about this enormous  experiment which is well underway and thus far generating enormous profits, perhaps some freedom but little lasting security.         

Rango-
Rango-

@stevenmia So if this an experiment, that means we are using our college students as test guinea pigs   to be at the mercy of guns carried by other students to find out how many deaths or shootings will occur?  Stupid idea....By the  way, I'm 68 years old here.

awbuzz
awbuzz

Kudos to PICKLEBOY


Criminals tend to commit crimes in places they have the lest amount of fear from being caught or retaliated against...   If they fear being hurt, they will go look for "softer targets" elsewhere.

PICKLEBOY
PICKLEBOY

As a GA Tech student, a senior in Mechanical Engineering, you do not represent me. Your arguments are a plea to emotion and lack factual backing.


This idea that it would instill fear in the student body that someone may have a gun on them is so naive and ignorant. Realize this, you live in GEORGIA, every time you go to a store, every time you go to a restaurant, or anywhere for that matter, I guarantee you have interacted or be near a law abiding citizen who was carrying a gun. By your logic it should be a shootout everywhere you go.


You need to be 21 years old to have a weapon carry permit, pass a background check, and get finger printed. People already carry guns on college campus', I know that for a fact. They're not supposed to, but some do and arguing that you'd be fearful of someone shooting you is utterly naive. People carry guns everywhere you go, this only allows the law abiding to carry where criminals do not care about laws. 

Ralph-43
Ralph-43

Stanford investigators in Sweden (20 percent of the homicide rate of the U.S.) report that those murdered are likely to have a mental illness (5 times the rate of those without mental illness).  This risk of being murdered in Sweden is highest in those with substance use disorders (9 times) as well as 3 times the rate for those with personality disorders and depression (2.5 times) (Br Med J, 2013).  Maybe we can learn something. Many Americans are educable and want a safer society free of gun violence.

gregg56
gregg56

@Ralph-25 I am sure that you believe there is a point in your post relative to guns, but the evidence you provided does not seem to be correlated with guns.

gregg56
gregg56

Oddly, the arguments made in the letter are amazingly similar to the arguments made by the opponents of HB 60 in 2014 that allowed licensed carriers access to many more locations in the State of Georgia.  The predictions of gunfights on corners increasing and blood in the streets have never materialized.


So, HB 859 ONLY allows holders of valid Georgia Weapons Carry Licenses (GWCL), who must in most cases be 21 years or older to secure a license, to carry on campuses.


I am imaging that this letter was penned BEFORE the multiple attacks inside the library at the Georgia State University campus just a few miles down the road.


The suicide argument is way more emotional that factual.  IF a person is predisposed to committing suicide, keeping them from having a gun will not stop the suicide.  Since the GWCL requires a person to be over 21 to get the license, ANY student who already has a GWCL is legal to own and possess a gun outside the "gun free zone" at Georgia Tech.  If this suicide argument was anywhere near accurate, the news would be filled with stories of college age students committing suicide by gun, and those are just not being reported in the news media.


The loss of talent and the censoring of topics are more emotional arguments that have no basis in facts that can be cited or published.  If I were seeking employment at Georgia Tech and I saw the number of attacks off campus and on campus by criminals--who by definition do not follow laws--, I would have more reservations about coming to work in an environment where I was prohibited by law from having a means of protecting myself than I would be having knowledge that colleagues and students may be carrying legally for their own protection.


The emotional argument that "sensitive" subjects may be censored because students may be armed is more of a statement about the decidedly sad state of the young minds at Georgia Tech where the student leaders fear that in a "sensitive" discussion a student may pull out a gun and start shooting than it is about having a gun present.  ASSUMING this argument has even a SHRED of truth to it, TODAY a student can conceal several different types of weapons--guns included--in their bags and do EXACTLY what the student leaders are fearing may happen should HB 859 become law.  Since we do not hear these stories on the news today, one can conclude that students are NOT carrying in these concealed weapons and--even if they do, they are not--using them during "sensitive" discussions. 


This letter is born out of fear of change and the rational students at Georgia Tech should reject it for the invalid, unsupported, and emotional arguments that comprise it.

Barney Taylor
Barney Taylor

The graduate student teacher and the date are your examples?????? What in the world does that have to do with anything????


BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

Two thoughts:

1. Students don't make this decision.

2. Colorado already has a campus concealed carry law and what the students forsee has not occurred.

gtechbaker
gtechbaker

College-aged kids, alcohol, parties, guns - what could possibly go wrong....


Well-written letter.  College kids have enough to contend with - they don't need to be dealing with students carrying concealed weapons.  This is a stupid law that our legislature is likely to pass. It will not change crime statistics at all.  Its just going to result in fear, and increased shootings between students.


It amazes me how the gun lobbyists (i.e., NRA) have ginned up this "fear", making people think they need to rush out and buy guns to protect themselves, and making people think there is this concerted assault on the second amendment.  Crime levels are nowhere where it was 25-30 years ago.  There is no need for an armed population, and it just results in accidental shootings (e.g., the 4-year old that shot her mother the other day in Florida).

gregg56
gregg56

@gtechbaker OK, let's apply a few real facts here.  ONLY--with some very specific exceptions--students who are 21 or over will qualify for a GWCL, so most of your "stressed out student" argument is pretty much invalid.


On the increased fear and shootings, when HB 60 was signed into law in 2014, the exact same thing was said, and to date, there have been NO reports of that type of activity.


Nobody is "ginning" up any security fears.  Over the last 30 years, as reported in 2 CDC and 1 FBI research studies, as the percentage of gun ownership has increased, the amount of gun violence has actually decreased, in direct opposition to your claim.  In your 2nd to last sentence, you actually gave the statistic, but failed to give credit to the decline noted.

Rango-
Rango-

@gtechbaker Your message makes too much sense, therefore it will be ignored by the gun lovers.




Ralph-43
Ralph-43

Randomly arming multiple civilians has not produced a safe society (i.e., Syria, Mexico, U.S., Somalia).  'Stop and Frisk' coupled with gun restriction (i.e., New York City under Bloomberg) markedly reduced robberies, murders, and rapes).  There are charges of 'profiling' which is the natural outcome of this approach when initially implemented.  Citizens eventually learn to avoid being the 'profile'.  This may appear to reduce the freedom of expression by those being profiled but the majority of New Yorkers found it reassuring and accompanied by an increased sense of freedom.

gregg56
gregg56

@Ralph-25 You should REALLY cite some references for those claims, because the sites that I am able to find do not agree with your assertions.

Governments are not "randomly arming" civilians.  You make it sound like if you stop your car at a traffic light, someone throws you a gun and some ammo.  The people are following the law and applying for the GWCL, passing a very detailed background check, and then getting a license to carry.  I will not go to New York (city or state) because of their insane gun laws!

redweather
redweather

The legislature and the governor are determined to pass this law, so I'll be shocked if it doesn't become law. 


My advice to students and faculty who begin carrying, remember that members of the campus police force may not have time to determine if you are a "good guy" in the event an active shooter is reported on campus. Having the means to defend yourselves is one thing, but being able to convince the police that you are not the "bad guy" is another. Forewarned is forearmed. 

gregg56
gregg56

@redweather A licensed carrier, should (s)he have to use their gun will have the good sense to follow the instructions of LEOs and not turn around with gun in hand.  That licensed carrier may actually save your life BEFORE the campus police can arrive on scene.

Remember, when SECONDS count, the police are only MINUTES away!

David Clark
David Clark

I noticed you didn't ask, if your premise is true, why are not these crimes occurring today on Georgia Tech Campus perpetrated by law abiding citizens?  There is certainly no reason a student can't bring an illegal gun on campus now.  The truth of the matter is your Non sequitur is false.

You and Jen Abrams of the Student Government Association hype that Georgia Tech is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.Old Testament, real wrath of God type stuff! Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes!The dead rising from the grave!Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!

The reality is that students, faculty and staff are being violently accosted by an armed criminal sub-culture that the authorities are unable to control and the courts ineffectual to punish.

Somehow, in your world, it is morally superior to be a victim rather than defend yourself or ones family members.  In light of this vacuum of leadership and policing, the duly elected legislators are offering a valid corrective action in the form of HB 859.  As before, your’ predictions of blood in the street will prove invalid.  That dog doesn’t hunt any longer.

Sevarai
Sevarai

Guns are already on your campus and if you don't believe that, you are naive. 

LibsRtheLamest
LibsRtheLamest

@AJCGetSchooled Maybe Jen Abrams and Canellas should google the names Amanda Collins and Brianna Denison before they purport to speak for GT

BobtheBiker
BobtheBiker

We had guns in the frat house. You're a bunch of PC wussies.

c3033
c3033

As a graduate of Georgia Tech and the University of Colorado I am qualified to mention a few things in response to this article:


With regards to student "leaders" at Georgia Tech speaking for the student body, lets just say that wasnt the case when I was there and I am quite doubtful that Ms. Abrams, a "public policy" major and democrat speaks for majority of the student body.  The same can most assuredly be said for "activist" engineer Canellas.


Here is an article regarding support for and experience of Colorado colleges since 2002 and the University of Colorado since 2012 when the Supreme Court of Colorado forced the school to accept the law.  As you will read, other that one idiot discharging a gun accidentally and being fired, nothing has happened.  


https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/04/20/guns-on-university-campuses-the-colorado-experience/ 


I would highly recommend that Ms Abrams read the story of Amanda Collins who was raped by a guy who went on to rape two more women and kill another!!  The Colorado Senator who decided to try and embarrass the poor girl was run out of town (and rightly so).


Lastly, how many Tech students have been robbed, stabbed, and even murdered over the last 30 years at the fringes of campus? Perhaps a the prospect of getting shot by formerly defenseless students might cause a criminal or three to think twice and maybe save a few lives.

Under-educated White Guy
Under-educated White Guy

You rednecks and you're damn guns.  Please stop trying to justify why carry on campus is a good idea.  It's a dumb idea.  Period.



Chris Nicholson
Chris Nicholson

As a highly educated redneck, I'll point out the obvious:

Signs don't stop those intent upon murder.

Oh, and it's your, not you're.

Iggystooge
Iggystooge

Only those who are Georgia Tech students and live that life everyday should be allowed to opine on this letter. 

Wrecker
Wrecker

@Iggystooge Okay, my wife and I are Tech grads and have a son on campus, so I can comment.  Guns are already on campus.  Why are you so intent on prohibiting someone from exercising their constitutional right to defend themselves?

GB101
GB101

@Iggystooge Why?  What about parents and grandparents of students?  And taxpayers who pay for the place?  And anyone else on earth that wants to opine?  Your statement is absurd.  

ToddE
ToddE

The whole premise of his letter is based on a fallacy - that allowing "concealed carry" permits to carry on-campus is going to entice random people to start packing heat and commit acts of violence.

The process and requirements of obtaining a concealed carry permit will still be in place - and it's not easy.  If a criminal decides to carry a gun to class and open fire, he doesn't need a concealed carry permit to do it. But a citizen who wants the right to defend themselves within the law *does* need it and should be able to exercise that right.

redweather
redweather

@ToddE Other than submitting to a criminal background check, what's not easy about getting a permit?

Ralph-43
Ralph-43

All data demonstrates that the number of guns present correlates with the murder, suicide, and accidental death rate.  How many times does it have to be said?  Now that the United States owns 40 percent of all the guns on the planet and has the highest murder rate of any developed country, these students understand that the step to safety is to begin to reduce the number of guns.  People in this age group understand that data.  Perhaps our antiquated state congressional people should be required to take a course in critical thinking, statistics, and analysis of published scientific data prior to taking office.

ssinf
ssinf

@Chris Nicholson Accidental shootings are rare? How do you know this? There is very little data produced on deaths by accidental shootings. However, a quick google search shows that perhaps 10 or 15 thousand accidental shootings not resulting in death occur each year. Is 10000 a year infinitesimally rare? Check this specifically on deaths. No one knows. It'd be nice if public health researchers were able to aggregate this date.


https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/09/04/how-often-do-children-in-the-u-s-unintentionally-shoot-and-kill-people-we-dont-know/


If you have some data to provide, I'd love to see it.

ssinf
ssinf

@Chris Nicholson And all of that said, it's curious that the country with the highest prevalence of firearms also has the most deaths and injuries by firearms. Random coincidence? Would people use some other weapon if guns weren't available? Would 4 year olds, instead of shooting their mothers instead stab them?

Ralph-43
Ralph-43

@Chris Nicholson

The U.S. is downright weird compared to civilized Western Europe or Australia  (which enacted gun control after a mass shooting in 1996 and there have been no further such incidents).

Number of Murders by Firearms, US, 2012: 8,855

Percentage of all Murders that were committed by firearms in US: 69.3

Suicides in U.S. 2011: 38,285

Gun Suicides in U.S., 2011: 19,766

Number of Murders by firearms, England and Wales, 2012-2013: 30

(equivalent to 164 U.S. murders).

Percentage of all murders in England and Wales that were committed by firearm: 5.4 percent.

Number of suicides in England and Wales, 2011: 4871 (equivalent to about 25,818 in US or 31% lower)

Number of suicides by Firearm in England and Wales, 2011: 84

The U.S. has the highest gun ownership in the world and the highest murder rate in the developed world.

redweather
redweather

@Chris Nicholson Comparing violent crimes rates between the US and Europe is tricky. The US does not include assault in its violent crime numbers, Europe does. 

gregg56
gregg56

@Ralph-25 Perhaps you should read some of that published scientific data before commenting.

gregg56
gregg56

@ssinf @Chris Nicholson NO, it is a tragedy that is fully attributable to the OWNER of the gun not practicing safe gun storage.

BTW, this article is NOT about toddlers and guns, it is about 21 years and older college students getting GWCLs and being allowed to carry on campus.

Chris Nicholson
Chris Nicholson

By rate, most European countries have higher violent crime than the US.

Don't conflate accidents and suicides and violent crime.

gregg56
gregg56

@ssinf @Chris Nicholson Do you also find it odd that countries with the most automobiles also have the most automobile accidents?

Chris Nicholson
Chris Nicholson

It is a tragedy without a doubt.

Check the CDC data directly. In 2013, only 505 accidental gun deaths of all types were reported. Of those, only 41 involved children. In a population of over 300 million, that is the very definition of infinitesimal.